Bronson Winslow on November 8, 2022
- Voter participation groups are pressuring people to vote, saying they will alert their neighbors and other residents in their state if they do not.
- The groups, which claim to be bipartisan, explain that they are working toward a “new majority in America” of young people, people of color and unmarried women.
- Though the groups may be in violation of tax codes, they are not acting in an illegal manner toward voters due to the public nature of voting records, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Voter participation groups are pressuring people to vote, saying they will alert their neighbors and other residents in their state if they do not.
The groups, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and Center for Voter Information (CVI), are sister companies operating as bipartisan nonprofits who have worked to promote voting, yet the groups have a history of blatant partisan behavior, according to the Capital Research Center (CRC). The groups, formed by a staffer for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Page Gardner, started as the Women’s Voice Women Vote group that aimed to register Democratic voters, but switched names in 2011, rebranding the organization as a voter participation group.
One of the mailers, called a voter report card by VPC and CPI, was sent to an Ohio resident and told the voter that everyone in the state with her name would know if she didn’t vote. “We’re sending the mailing to you and other voters across Ohio with your first name to share who does and does not vote in an effort to promote election participation. We will be reviewing these records after the election to determine whether or not you joined others in Ohio with your first name in voting,” the mailer said.
VPC’s website explains that they are working toward a “new majority in America” of young people, people of color and unmarried women. The group believes this new majority faces “unique challenges when it comes to our work, our health and our future. As of 2020, we’re 150 million people strong and we make up 64% of the people who can vote in America.”
“They are a way for Democrats to push voter registration among their preferred voters, likely Democratic voters, basically by taking advantage of the tax laws,” senior investigative researcher for the Capital Research Center Hayden Ludwig told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “So they define the demographic that they purposely target in order to register those people, and if you think about what they’re doing, they’re admitted to partisanship because they know that’s exactly the demographics that the Democratic Party has to turn out every election cycle.”
The “bipartisan” group draws funding from the Democratic Mind the Gap super PAC. In a leaked 2019 memo, the group discussed clear partisan intentions, stating that problems would arise if Republicans found out the group was funding voter participation nonprofits, according to CRC.
“In 2018, we managed to stay out of the news and as far as we know out of Republicans’ sightlines through the entire cycle,” the group said in the memo. “The magnitude of our efforts, the details of targeting, and the names of the organizations we are recommending, would be of great interest to [Republicans]. If that information becomes public, it would make MTG [Mind the Gap] and the donee organizations targets for Republicans.”
Got a letter telling me that if I don’t vote, this group will … report to other Elizabeth’s in the state that an Elizabeth didn’t vote?
(How is this a real thing???) pic.twitter.com/TY5ORwvfug
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) November 7, 2022
Though the groups may be in violation of tax codes, they are not acting in an illegal manner toward voters due to the public nature of voting records. Despite this, they do capitalize on peer pressure, executive director of the Honest Elections Project Jason Snead told the DCNF.
“There’s nothing illegal about sending those out. The intent here is to put pressure on people to vote. So that’s what the voter participation centers are doing. They’re trying to, to essentially pressure people into casting a ballot, taking advantage of, you know, some evidence that suggests that when people don’t do something that they think they should, if people know about it, they’re more likely to do it,” Snead said.
VPC and CVI’s efforts have been party-driven for many years according to Sasha Issenberg, who referenced the voter participation nonprofit in his 2012 book “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns“. “Even though the group [VPC] was officially nonpartisan, for tax purposes, there was no secret that the goal of all its efforts was to generate new votes for Democrats,” Issenberg wrote on page 86.
“As a non-profit and non-partisan civic engagement organization, the Voter Participation Center (VPC) has been mailing letters to voters around the country to encourage them to vote on November 8th. Based on publicly available state voter files, the letters typically show how voters compare to their neighbors when it comes to participating in elections. Many citizens are inspired to vote when shown their record. It’s a way to provide some meaningful benchmarks to encourage greater involvement in our democracy. Furthermore, the letters clearly state that VPC is a non-profit organization, and the mailings offer a way to easily be removed from our mailing list,” Tom Lopach, president of the Voter Participation Center, told the DCNF.
CVI did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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